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In optics, more than $1 million has been raised for the Robert E. Hopkins chair

Robert Hopkins '45 (PhD), at left, is seen here with Dennis Hall (top), director of the Institute of Optics, and Rudolf Kingslake (right), the first faculty member hired at the institute.

"Bob Hopkins could look at a lens and tell if it would work," according to Professor Duncan Moore '74 (PhD), dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science and one of Hopkins' former graduate students. "He shaped assignments to encourage a hands-on approach."

Hopkins, who directed the Institute of Optics from 1954 to 1965, stands out as one of the institute's most influential figures: as an optics entrepreneur, an as innovator in the field of lens and optical-system design, and as a teacher and mentor for hundreds of students like Moore. (He's also a Rochester alumnus, having earned a doctorate from the Institute of Optics in 1945. He's married to Barbara Barnes Hopkins '39.)

In the early 1950s, Hopkins was among the first to exploit the computer as a tool for handling problems in lens and optical-system design. In 1953, he teamed up with Jack Evans '39, '49 (Mas) and James Anderson to found Tropel Corporation, serving as president in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

In recognition of his achievements, a group of his former students and colleagues now seek to establish an endowed chair in optics in his name. With a goal of $1.5 million, committee members have raised $1 million to date and expect to meet their goal by early 1997.

The committee, which is chaired by Jay Eastman '70, '74 (PhD), includes John Bruning, Thomas Harris '58 (Mas), Robert Potter '60 (PhD), Robert Shannon '54, '57 (Mas), F. Dow Smith '51 (PhD), Warren Smith '44, and James Wyant '69 (PhD). Aiding the committee's work are Professor Dennis Hall, director of the Institute of Optics, Roger Lathan '54, vice president and general secretary at the University, Professor Moore, Jack Kreckel, and Kathy Buckpitt, who are director and associate director, respectively, of planned giving and major gifts for the University.

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